Samer Battikhi: Dark comedy may attract more viewers

Samer Battikhi
(Photos: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — Samer Battikhi is a Jordanian freelance director and writer who studied film making at SAE Institute in Amman. From a young age, Battikhi liked watching films and reading novels, which inspired him to enter the filmmaking industry that would allow him to tell stories through music and acting. He has been working in the film industry since 2015. اضافة اعلان

An undated photo of Samer Battikhi. (Photo: Handout from Samer Battikhi)

Battikhi started his career working as an assistant director to local and international filmmakers. He also produced, directed, and wrote several short films, as student projects or his independent films.

“I found a new way to communicate with people. They get to know me through my films, and I get to know them through their reactions toward them,” Battikhi said in an interview with Jordan News.

Battikhi believes that the film industry in Jordan is evolving, as in the early 2000s, there were not as many film-related activities as the ones occurring now. Progress may be slow, he says, but the Jordanian film industry is attracting more people from all around the world. 

Alrawabi School for Girls and new Jordanian films and series proved that we can have Jordanian content that reaches international platforms. I imagine that the future of the industry will be prosperous,” Battikhi said.

In 2019, four Jordanian feature films were produced and participated in international film festivals. This achievement gives hope to independent filmmakers in Jordan. 

Battikhi is interested in making dark comedy movies rather than using the traditional way of storytelling. He uses dark comedy to tackle social issues that are considered serious or difficult to discuss. He also believes that through that he can attract more viewers, as dark comedy is a mix between drama and comedy.

Through his work, he tries to deliver different messages to the viewers. But he also aims to encourage people to get out of the box and break the barriers that limit their potential to be more effective.

Battikhi finds his inspirations in his personal experience and feelings. He says that the main characters of his films have personal experiences similar to his, but at the same time, they reflect different experiences and feelings. 

In 2017, he filmed his second independent film “Spare Parts”, which he wrote, co-produced and directed. The film was a psychological drama with only two characters and very little dialogue. The film was a challenge to him as he worked to express the idea and keep the audience connected through the visual elements.

His second dark comedy film, after his graduation project, was Arnoos, in 2019. For the movie, he took a grant from the Jordan Film Fund through the Royal Film Commission. It was co-produced by Battikhi’s production company Sierra Bravo Productions and Pan East Media. The film starred Saba Mubarak, Ahmed Al Omari, Ziad Bakri alongside two young boys, and participated in the Carthage and El Gouna film festivals

His latest short film is Kroka, which he directed this year. He co-wrote the script with Enad Bin Tareef; it was produced by Sierra Bravo Productions and Bin Tareef’s Scene TDC. The film, starring Rakeen Saad and Ahmad Srour, is still in post-production, aiming for a 2022 premiere.

He recently filmed his first short documentary Ragheef Khobez (Bread Loaf), also in post-production. He aims to participate in some film festivals with this documentary. 
Battikhi’s participation in films festivals gave him the chance to introduce his work to a larger audiences, to receive constructive criticism that helps him improve his work, and to expand his network, he said.

One of the challenges facing the independent film industry, in Jordan and elsewhere, is limited funding, Battikhi said, adding that, nevertheless, the platforms and funding opportunities are increasing. Platforms like Netflix and Shahid increase competition and help people from around the world watch movies and TV series from different backgrounds and in different languages.

Battikhi is currently working on the second draft of his first feature film Men Mal Allah, which won the developing grant from the Jordanian Film Fund. He is also working on two TV series, Propaganda and The Shopping Square.

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